Day 53 - Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes
It has been a really great day today. It started with an exceptional breakfast, home made granola with excellent yogurt, an amazing array of fruit, home made jams and marmalade, all just exactly what I like. Annette from Brigantes luggage transportation lives next door to the bed and breakfast, and she drove me back to Horton. I would return to Amelia’s Kitchen in a heartbeat.
The river in Horton in Ribblesdale was transformed this morning. The rain we endured yesterday has clearly been accumulating on the fell, and has been filling the becks. The Ribble, that was pottering yesterday, was now much more agitated and considerably higher.
The rain was adding to the deluge, but I had hope today that it wouldn’t persist for the whole walk. But I was fully waterproofed again at the outset. The path was clear, setting off up the side of Horton Moor, but the skies were definitely not, the low mist and drizzle soaking my hair whenever I tentatively removed my hood.
For the first time I didn’t feel I was alone on the PW. There were groups of people walking, though I soon realised that they were only walking it as far as the path to the Yorkshire 3 peaks. These are Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, and are often tackled in that order in one day. It would be the equivalent of walking a marathon and climbing higher than Ben Nevis. I was happy sticking to the Pennine Way.
Lots of water as I climbed higher. Becks bubbling with their reddish tinged liquid, crossing the path on many occasions, and the sound of rushing water was everywhere. I was glad of my excellent boots.
After an hour or so, there was a glimmer of excitement. The grey started to lift, I could release my hood, and then there was the joy of seeing two patches of blue.
It lifted my spirits immeasurably. I put on my music, picking my new favourite song of all time - yesterday’s new song of the day, ‘Jackie Onassis’. I sang along, reserving my most full throated rendition for the ‘woah’ section of the chorus. I alarmed two cyclists who were passing me at the time, who greeted me with a concerned ‘morning?’ The decision had to be made whether I would pretend it hadn’t happened or style it out. I styled it out by singing the rest of the chorus just as loudly.
I crossed a little bridge with the water in full spate, with a little bit of blue ahead of me, and an amazing piece of music in my ears. I was feeling strong, fit and incredibly happy.
The views were opening out as the skies cleared. I could see across to the viaduct at Ribblehead, and increasingly could see the higher fells in the distance. I was particularly struck by what I think was Ingleborough fell looking like a benign Easter island statue in cheerful repose.
The first half of the day was entirely uphill, about 7 miles of steady climbing. I stopped towards the top for my first break of the day, coinciding with a bit of signal so I could talk to a friend too. The ground in front of me in the near valley appeared quilted, the tall hills behind becoming clearer all the time. I had my tea, my delicious manchego and tomato sandwich made by Amelia this morning, with the whole of the fell to myself and my friend in my ear.
As I reached the highest point, I was relieved that I didn’t need the cairns for navigation. It’s an indicator of how tricky it can be up in this wild and remote place.
The wildness didn’t put off the Romans. This stretch is called Cam High Road, and is based on an old Roman road, later restored as a packhorse way, and recently resurfaced to accommodate forestry traffic. The tarmac made it harder to imagine the besandalled cohorts, but I did my best.
I’ve met quite a few Duke of Edinburgh teams since starting, but none doing Gold. Today I met two groups from Blackburn Sakura explorer scouts. They were an example of the best sort of young people. Miles, Leo, Lydia and Reece were the first group I met (though Reece didn’t hang around for the photo!). They were doing a 4 day hike of about 20 km a day, carrying all their camping gear. They were tired, but extremely cheerful. And sweetly very impressed with what I was doing. ‘Kudos to you!’ They told me that they were map and compass reading, but they had the OS app for emergencies. ‘Don’t tell her that!!’
A little further on there was a convenient boulder on which to eat the rest of my lunch. I was looking over the Snaizerholme valley, 1850 feet higher than the tiny houses and cars driving below me. The shadows of the clouds were slowly changing on the fells opposite, and the sounds were of sheep and chickens with the steady sound of running water.
And then descending from the path on my right came Kevin (with a boot mainly made of gaffer tape), Harry, Sebastian, Louie and Tom. They were from the same explorer scouts as the previous group. As Tom ran back up the path to see if he could find his watch, I waited with the other boys. They were everything that’s good about teenagers, chatty, funny and kindly interested in me and what I was doing.
I had to choose between a slightly longer though easier bridle path, or a shorter but trickier PW section. As I was mulling this, finishing chatting with the boys, a walking group passed me and headed off to the trickier route. I took that as a sign and followed them. They were the Norwest walking group, from Preston. They go out every couple of weeks at least, normally taking two or three levels of walkers, some on short walks of 3 miles or so, some intermediate ones and then these longer walkers, who were doing about 9 miles today. I fell into step with them for a couple of miles, over the boggiest sections I’ve encountered so far. They were good company, obviously good friends, and all clearly loved being out walking the fells.
It was then an easy walk through the village of Gayle to Hawes, my stop for the night. It appeared en fête, with bunting and loads of people shopping and hanging out in the cafes. Although I was keen to get to my accommodation, which was a little out of town, I ventured in far enough to get an ice cream for all the ice cream followers. This was Thunder and Lightning flavour, which was a vanilla ice cream with chocolate ripple and cinder toffee swirls in a chocolate waffle cone. Well worth the wait!
A brief look at the Gayle Beck that had become a torrent, before heading to my B and B. It’s always good to be greeted with a pot of tea and pieces of cake, and then for the room to have a bath and a view of the fell for tomorrow was even better.
But the fun didn’t stop there. I wept through the National Anthem at the final of the Euros, looking at the hope in the women’s faces, and knowing how much a victory would mean to Tasha in particular. I watched the first half, then had the joy of being taken out for dinner by my lovely friends Karen and Tim at their smart hotel. Home to catch up with the game and delight in the victory. A great end to a great day, and I can look forward to walking with Karen in the morning.
Distance travelled: 13.7 miles
Total ascent: 1870 feet
Calories burned: 2020
Local tipple - Semmer water by Leyburn brewery
Dinner at Simonstone Hall hotel - excellent
Crab with tomato and lovage emulsion
Halibut with bean purée and clam chowder
Video of the day
New song of the day
All eyes on me - Bo Burnham
I love the way the audience is used as an instrument. He’s got a great voice, and it’s very catchy. But also unnerving the way the anger emerges later in the song. Very intriguing.